GeoBusiness - a business area with future for the German economy
“GeoBusiness” we call business models using spatial information from the public sector. The “German GeoBusiness Commission” (GGC) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) has as a main target to optimize the general conditions for delivering such information to the economy e.g. as so called web services. Key projects are showing how GeoBusiness works and what has to change to do so. Studies have worked out the legal foundations and market potentials in an international context. Special TaskForces are developing solutions for homogenizing the diversity of general conditions for using public spatial information. Conclusion of all experiences is, that business models - resulting in employment and advancement in know-how within the German economy – is only to develop by harmonizing countrywide and all across administrative levels legal conditions. If licencing and pricing models as well as the framework for data protection and technical standards within the public sector are not equalized all over Germany, there won´t be any sustainable GeoBusiness. Large wheels have to be turned within politics. Initiatives like „open data policy“ from the US, prize discounts of more than 90% for public geodata in Austria or „free data releases“ in UK need to be a precedent for Germany as well. A “Gordian knot” of GeoBusiness within Germany needs to be cut from federal over state to municipality level. Further information about the commission and its activities can be found on www.GeoBusiness.org.
Two guidelines are leading the activities of the GeoBusiness Commission
In spring 2005 the first guideline, the “Memorandum 2005” of the GGC comes into existence. The Federal Ministry of Economics, the conference of ministers of economic affairs and 15 federal umbrella associations presented a strategic paper naming the following cornerstones of an activated market of geographic information, the GeoBusiness within Germany:
- The usage of Geographic information in the sense of having positive effects on the national economy is to be made accessible as a basic supply using easy to understand, easy to use and easy to sign licences.
- Pricing models need to be transparent, harmonized and simplified oriented to the needs of the market and the users. They need to be presented flexible and dynamic through the internet by click. The close connection to economy oriented rights of use is obvious.
- Aspects of data protection are to be clarified countrywide, economy oriented and adequately to secure privacy of the people.
In May 2010 the second memorandum of the GGC was worked out. The cornerstones are still the same. The experiences of the past 5 years however make it clearer. Especially the tools which now will be used to create the solutions for countrywide harmonized conditions became clear: moderated thematic GeoBusiness TaskForces for licensing, pricing, data protection etc. were born and a central information hub containing web-services was launched for the economy in the internet (www.GeoMonitoring.org).
Download Memorandum II (In German):
Kommission für Geoinformationswirtschaft des Bundesministeriums für Wirtschaft und Technologie. Memorandum 2010 (PDF, 236 KB)
Flexible management structures
The members of GGC are umbrella associations from nearly all branches of the German economy and representative from the conference of the federal ministers of economic affairs (picture 1). It is lead by the BMWi. In addition, the head of the steering committee of the Spatial Data In-frastructure Germany (SDI-DE) frequently joins the meetings of the GGC. The operational work within projects, workshops and TaskForces is often perceived through member companies from the associations. The BMWi itself represents the GGC in the steering committee SDI-DE. Close Communication between the offices of GGC and SDI-DE as well as exchanging activities in projects and working groups a content wise mutual complement is ensured. There are three main participants within the GeoBusiness in Germany, economy, administration and politics (picture 2). To be able to work effectively on the main targets within the framework requirements, lead projects, studies, task forces and communication need to be attended by the decisive participants if needed.
The pivotal of the management structures within the GGC is the cooperation of the representatives from the economy with the GGC-Office. Five experts for moderation, project management, IT-Solutions and Public Relations are directly at service for the BMWi and the members of GGC. This operative unit of the GGC was established at the “Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources” in Hannover. This office is bundling all the red lines between government institutions at SDI-DE network and the GGC. The GGC-Office is sharpening the needs of the economy and caring for balancing of content and targeting activities. Studies are allocated, monitored and communication strategies are developed. In fact the GGC-Office ensures the structural support of the commission. It opens the doors to specific administrations, prepares the commitments with the representatives of the SDI-DE and moderates the negotiation processes between the economy and administration. Its neutral position between economy and administration on a federal level with its traditional experiences in cooperation within different branches of the economy and great openness about business processes in the economy offers an ideal basis for this function.
GeoBusiness needs „activating data policies“
The political structures for setting up the spatial data infrastructure of Germany are in place. Consequently the federal, state and municipality levels of the administration are actively and directly participating within the creation of framework requirements. The standardized conditions for the delivering of public spatial information to the economy as web services can only be realized in a uniform way if the highest political levels pick up this topic and identify this as a consequently correct path for the economical development of the GeoBusiness in Germany.
The TaskForces of the GGC are developing proposals which demand harmonized data policies. The deviation between such modern ideas of licencing, pricing or data protection and the existing regulations is obvious. Yet every federal, state and municipality level provides agreements, regu-lations or general terms and conditions basing on its own experiences. In consequence this framework is a huge surprise package for each economic user. A general shift of paradigm has to come through, that could be a prototype for similar developments in other nations. The plan is to finalize the thoughts on standardized conditions as far as possible in 2012. To maintain this schedule the decisiveness of those responsible in the political area has to be supported.
Based on the experiences made in the lead projects of the GGC during the last years, it is likely that the implementation of a new trend-setting and activating data policy via the administrative structures of Germany will need a certain amount of time. It is likely that the timeframe for the complete realization of the INSPIRE-directive, meaning at least until 2019, will be used until the harmonized conditions from federal to municipality level will be introduced. Moreover, it is also likely that the data policy has to be adapted constantly in the course of the political and technical development. This needs a permanent steering process.
A requirement for such a simple and economy oriented world of spatial data in Germany is that the “Gordian knot” of diversity will be cut through “activating data policies”. The last 5 years within the Spatial Data Infrastructure of Germany has analyzed the situation and worked out possible solutions. It needs courage and decisiveness within the political areas to cut the “Gordian knot” within the conditions for delivering public spatial information: open data policy in Germany…